I arrived in Toronto and went to Bakka Phoenix Books to meet with Rebecca Simkin from the Sunburst Award Society and received my Sunburst Medal. What a thrill! The Sunburst honors Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. The award was for TIN STAR. If you haven’t read it, why not try it now!
Today is thanksgiving and I thought maybe I’d just give a little thanks. I’m so thankful that I get to make art and write books and do cool projects. This year has been both difficult and rewarding. A year of books and awards and now I’m a bona fide NY Times Best Seller (thanks, Princess Leia!) But it’s also been a hard one financially. I’m thankful to those who support me and to those who have fed me dinner when I haven’t been able to buy groceries.
Right now, I am grateful to be up in the mountains of Alberta, at the Banff Centre for the Arts, working on my new opera with composer Andre Ristic. It’s tentatively set to be performed in Montreal in 2017 with ECM+ who mounted our last opera Les Aventures de Madame Merveille.
It’s kind of gorgeous here. Nestled in a cabin in a bowl of mountains whose stoney arms hold you and nourish you as you create. It’s a bit fun being a writer in the music residency. It’s like having a foot in a new world. So far, I’ve been working on the libretto, but also I wrote some lyrics for two of the other music residents here.
Glad to be an artist.
Very excited to announce that TIN STAR won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. I won in the YA category and Thomas King won in the Adult category for his book THE BACK OF THE TURTLE which looks amazing and I can’t wait to read it.
About Tin Star, the Sunburst Jury said:
Tin Star is a gritty, compact science fiction novel that travels far beyond the usual orphan tropes of much young adult fiction. Tula is a teenaged girl overwrought with thoughts of revenge after her parents are murdered. Left behind on a shabby space station populated with all manner of alien life, Tula must learn to fend for herself if she is to survive. Castellucci handles notions of cultural difference with a deft hand, moving Tin Star beyond the sort of human-centeredness typical of traditional space operas. The spare prose paints a vivid picture of Tula’s struggles between her desire for vengeance and her yearning for a life beyond grief, and her refusal to view human manners as a default form of “normal” is reminiscent of the best of science-fiction such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. A powerful, melancholy, and ultimately surprising work, Tin Star is a coming-of-age tale that will resonate with any reader with a pulse.
The other shortlisted works for the 2015 Young Adult Award were:
- The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet Books, 2014)
- A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey (Bloomsbury Press, 2014)
- Sophie, in Shadow by Eileen Kernaghan (Thistledown Press, 2014)
- The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet (ChiTeen, 2014)
Just look at who is on my crazy cool team! WOWZA! Today, I am delighted to be hosting Jessica Burkhart on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! She’s here with her new book WILD HEARTS I am looking forward to reading it.
How do I play? Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!). Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM–but there is also a green team, a blue team, a pink team, an orange team, a red team, a teal team, and a purple team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by OCTOBER 4TH, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Sorry! Jessica did not give me any content! I’m in a holding pattern!
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Jessica Burkhart, and all of TEAM ORANGE! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 39. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Orange Team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
This week is all about Star Wars & Princess Leia! My new novel MOVING TARGET is out on Force Friday!
But in case you are visiting me here for the first time and want to get to know my other work, here’s a handy little list of my other Sci Fi stories. Enjoy!
The SOUND OF USELESS WINGS free on tor.com
WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED ON MARS free to read over tor.com
BABY IN THE BASKET free strangehorizons.com
“The Marker” a short story in AFTER ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
FIRST DAY ON EARTH *this one currently only available in ebook OR THE LIBRARY!
It’s July! I’ve got two new stories out this week.
I will be at San Diego Comic Con July 8 – 12! Here are the panels that I’m on so far. I hope you will come to one of them, or to one of my booth signings! Please say hello if you do.
Friday, July 10th
Comics and the Real World: Using Graphic Novels as Tools of Tolerance
Time: 1:00 – 2:00pm
Room: 30 CDE
Description: Comics are typically perceived as means of entertainment. Panelists will demonstrate how they can be used to teach greater tolerance and understanding of the real world. We’ll demonstrate how comics empower students to feel, access and comprehend historical and cultural events, more fully understand diverse figures in history and fiction, and even grasp concepts in science and math. Then we’ll suggest sample templates for having kids create their own comics as a means of teaching them how to diffuse personal issues and master alternate means of communication. There will be lesson and reading suggestion handouts and time for Q&A.
Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Cecil Castellucci Signing in the MacTeen Booth
Building the Modern (Super)Heroine
6:30p.m. – 7:30p.m.
More and more, heroines are being positioned front and center on the page and screen. Katniss, Agent Carter, Tris, Furiosa, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel – to name a few. What do creators and fans want out of a powerful female protagonist? How do we pay tribute to the heroines of the past while still looking toward the future? What’s the difference between writing established heroines and creating your own? And how can we best position and support these characters to usher in a whole new era of totally bad ass (super)heroines across all platforms? Join this dynamic group of creators and expert commentators as they discuss the challenges of building modern heroines in a variety of mediums. With Cecil Castellucci (Stone in the Sky), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), Andrea Letamendi (psychologist Arkham Sessions ) Jose Molina (Agent Carter) and Babs Tarr (Batgirl), moderated by Amy Ratcliffe (StarWars.com) Room: 26AB
Saturday, July 11th
CBLDF: Comics in the Classroom: Real-World Ideas for Engaging Your Students with Comics.
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Description: Comics are more than just great entertainment — they’re an incredible tool for learning! Join creators Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck, The Plain Janes), Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales), Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish), Matt Phelan (The Storm in the Barn, Bluffton),Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy, Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden) and educators Rose Brock and Dr. Meryl Jaffe for a lively workshop discussing how comics can be used to engage students in the classroom. Get real-world suggestions for ways to integrate comics in the classroom, to expand on lessons with comic-based activities, and to encourage student participation. We’ll also have lesson and reading suggestion handouts and time for Q&A. Moderated by CBLDF Editorial Director Betsy Gomez.
Kill Your Idols: The Anxiety of Influence
1:00p.m. – 2:00p.m.,
Kill Your Idols: The Anxiety of Influence—How do you draw on the work that inspired you without simply imitating it? How do you transform your influences into something fresh? Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Cecil Castellucci (Tin Star) and Marc Bernardin (Genius) will discuss the alchemy of transmuting admiration into originality with moderator Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics). Room 32AB
Sunday, July 12th
The Girls Are Alright!
Time: 10:00am – 11:00am
Description: Female comic creators for kids and young adults are burning up the bestseller lists and winning awards. Listen in on this dynamic group of award-winning creators as they discuss the challenges and thrills of creating diverse heroines that appeal to a new generation of readers and hook them for a lifelong love of comics. Q&A and drawing to follow. Panelists including Jennifer Holm(Babymouse, Sunny Side Up), Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Sisters), Cece Bell (El Deafo), Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer), Jillian Tamaki(This One Summer), Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck). Moderated by Eva Volin (Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal).
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Cecil Castellucci Signing in the :01 Booth
Push Fun Forward: All-Ages Comics Have Arrived
Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
All-ages comics are important now more than ever in helping to bring in new and lapsed readers, from practically every demographic. BOOM! Studios associate editor Whitney Leopard leads a discussion on the significance of all-ages comics, from what they have achieved thus far to what lies ahead, with creators Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade), Thom Zahler (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Aron Steinke (The Zoo Box), Ian McGinty (Munchkin), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy).
Because of the way the industries are now, many artists are not getting the marketing and push that they deserve or need. Much of that promotion and publicity now falls on the artist’s shoulder. Your artist friend may have a good career, but unless they are crazy lucky, or have the “it” thing of the moment, your artist friend is probably really struggling.
“What. But they have so many books out! They are on tour all the time! They are always doing some wacky play!”
Sadly, about 90% of artists are struggling and barely making a living wage. Most have full-time day jobs on top of their full-time art careers. Remember, every new project that they do is like starting from scratch.
For example, many of the people who I know who are not artists see all the stuff that I am doing and think that it’s going so great for me that I don’t need their help to get the word out about my books. But I do. All of your artist friends (even the most famous ones) need your support all the time.
To be a great Art Ally for any of your author/artist friends I’ve drummed up a list of things that you can do. I’ve focused on books, since I’m an author, but I’ve added helpful tips within to give you ideas on how to help your music, performer, filmmaker, comic book, visual artist and indie game maker friends.
1) Pre-order their stuff. Seriously. If your friend has a book (or CD or DVD or indie game or comic book) coming out pre-order it. Pre-orders give the publishing company an indication of interest and can help with print runs. Good pre-orders sometimes help a book because the publishing company may give a book a little push with extra marketing money and publicity based on those numbers.
2) Show up. If your friend has a reading or something, go to it. “But I went to it once for another book!” That’s great! You are a supporter! But, every book is a whole new thing! (Go to their rock show! Play! Art gallery opening! If your friend is in a film/made a film go opening weekend, that’s when the box office counts. Or order it on VOD the week it drops. Or buy the game the week it comes out. You get the idea.)
3) When you are there, buy the book. “But I already pre-ordered it!” Yeah, I know. But buying it at the store or the reading helps the bookstore and the numbers and will help your friend do another reading there the next time. This is especially important if your friend is doing a reading not in their hometown. (If your friend is a musician, buy merch because that might be how they are paying for gas. If your friend is an artist, buy a piece of art because that might equal a bag of groceries.)
3a) “But argh! This is not my kind of book. I don’t read that genre. It’s not for me. I’m not a kid/teen.” Sure, that’s fair. The book might not be for you. But I bet you one million dollars that you know somebody that the book (or other thing) would be perfect for. Maybe a strange aunt? Maybe your weird nephew? Maybe your co-worker? And remember the holidays are always just around the corner! Why not get it signed? Think of it as a back up present. You can give it at a white elephant exchange. If all else fails, get a copy and donate it to your local library or if it’s a kids book, to the school library nearest you.
4) Signal boost it. While it may look to you like everybody knows about your friend’s book, they probably don’t. Remember that we are all kind of in a bubble when it comes to social media. Authors (and artists of all kinds) are always looking for new readers/audience and you totally have a bunch of friends that your author/artist friend doesn’t know. And those friends might have never heard of your friend’s book, movie, game, music and it might be right up their alley. And those friends have friends that you don’t know. And so on. And so on. So every once in a while, if you like and in a way that you are comfortable with, an easy Art Ally action is to Tweet, Instagram, Pintrest or Facebook (or repost) something about that person’s art thing on the social medias! This signal boosting helps to get new eyeballs on the book (or art thing) that your friend is doing.
5) Review it / Rate it. Perhaps you are on Goodreads? Or perhaps you frequent Amazon or B&N or Powells? If you really are a fan of the book (or art thing), a simple way to help boost your friend’s work is by giving it a star rating or a review. (For musicians you can do this at those places as well. Also you can add their album to your streaming site and rate it! For films rate it on Netflix if it’s there! For games there are places to do this too!)
5a) For books, on Goodreads it’s also helpful if you add it to your to read shelf. It’s both helpful before the book comes out and when the book comes out. So if you haven’t done it already, go to it! Add all your friends books to your to read shelf. It’s not too late!
6) Make sure that it is in your local library branch! Libraries are the biggest purchasers of books! An author wants their book to be read! Libraries help with that! Maybe you are librarian? Or someone super close to you is a librarian? This is where you can really help to get it on the library radar by making sure that it is on the order list for your branch or for your system. Sidenote: Many libraries are too poor to purchase books this is a great place for you to donate that extra book!
7) Many books have reader guides or teacher guides. Are you a teacher? Or is someone super close to you a teacher? If you love the book, consider using it in your class! Or if not that, you can donate the book to your (or your teacher pal’s) school library or classroom library for students to enjoy.
8) Book Club it. If you have a book club, suggest your group read your friend’s book. Or maybe just have a one-off book club and get a group of your friends together to read your friend’s book. If your friend writes for kids, do a mother/ daughter or father /son book club with a group of people. I’m 100% certain that your author friend would be delighted to come over (or if they live far, Skype) to discuss their book with your book club. (for musicians you could host a living room show at your house)
9) Ask your art pal to come in and speak! Maybe your school or library has a budget to bring in a variety of guest speakers for classrooms or assemblies? Your friend would be perfect for this. If your institution has no budget, you can still ask your friend to come and speak! Lots of authors have sliding scales and can organize a way to sell their own books and that can offset a pro bono visit. Also, it will help them to get new readers. Being an art ally is all about getting new audiences for your arty friends. (Your other artist pals would make great classroom / assembly visitors as well.)
10) Vote and Nominate. It’s possible that there are lists that you can vote on or nominate your friends for that they may be eligible for and deserving. This could be anything from your local publicly voted on thing to a list that is for professionals which you might be. It’s easy for everyone to remember to nominate the big best sellers of the year or the debut books that are getting the big pushes. But there are many midlist books that are wonderful and get lost in that shuffle. Make sure to champion the midlist! They really need help to be seen! (This is the same for all of your artist friends. There is always a thing that is going on where they can use your vote or nomination. You’ve gotten those emails / updates.)
11) Hand sell. Maybe you are a bookseller? Make sure that the book is on the shelf. And then, when and if you love it, hand sell it! You can also help by making sure that the book is still on the shelf once it’s sold. Many stores don’t automatically re-order a book if it doesn’t sell more than a certain amount. If you are not a bookseller, you can still hand sell by just talking up the book to people. (Talk up their music, game, comic, play, and movie.)
11a) If you work in retail anywhere and your pal is a musician and you like their music: Try putting their album on at work! Who knows? Maybe someone will ask you who that swell band is? Your pal may gain a new listener!
12) Support their Indiegogo or Kickstarter. For your other artist friends who are making movies, plays, albums, comics, indie video games support their crowdfunding effort. Really. You can totally afford the $5-10 level (even if you think the project is lame.) And it will really help them and boost morale.
13) Be a good literary citizen. If you are an author, remember to be a good literary citizen. Promote yourself, but also do stuff for the larger literary community. Participate and include others. There are many things you can do. You can organize events. You can pitch panels. You can show up to things. You can volunteer to be a judge for things or to moderate panels (be a good moderator if you do.) You can write essays about other works. Remember to extend past your own inner circle of friends to include people who you might not know. Being an artist is very hard. There are many ups and downs in a career. At some point everyone goes through a hard time and needs help. Avoid the cool kids table mentality. Be kind. When you are on the top, don’t forget to keep helping your community. Diversify your literary and artistic world. (Other artists, you know what this is in your own field. Art citizens for the win!)
14) Invite your friend over to dinner. Or buy them dinner. Or have a potluck. Everyone could use a good night out with friends and conversation. It’s a spirit booster. No lie.
You have the power to be a great ART ALLY! Champion what you love. From all artists everywhere, I thank you for your support!